Average cost of required elementary school supplies tops $70

Staff Reports

The numbers are in: the cost of the average elementary back-to-school supply list in 2015 is $70.93. The National Retail Federation puts their estimate closer to $97.

Costs for required supplies in Pocatello/Chubbuck District 25 elementary school classrooms varied both above and below that number, depending on the school, the required supplies and where they were purchased.

The national numbers were crunched by TeacherLists, an online school supplies list aggregator.

Items like facial tissues, disinfectant wipes, hand wipes and hand sanitizer are among the top items requested on TeacherList’s teacher wish lists in 2015. TeacherLists’ findings also reveal that while middle school and high school lists are typically shorter than elementary school lists, they ultimately cost parents more. Middle school lists in 2015 will cost parents an average of $91.14 and high school lists will add up to $157.58. The increase is attributed to technology items like graphing calculators and iPads that are sometimes required at higher grade levels.

The TeacherLists team analyzed over 300,000 lists this year to determine what parents are being asked to provide nationwide.

“Lists are growing and parent and school budgets are tighter than ever,” said Tim Sullivan, founder of TeacherLists. “Still, we’ve found that parents want their kids and their kids’ classrooms well-supplied for a great year full of learning opportunities. The school supply list is the start of that process, and parents are still in the habit of shopping to the lists every year.”

According to the website, one of the factors driving the increase in back-to-school spending is the addition of health and cleaning supplies like tissues and hand sanitizer to lists traditionally filled with pens, glue sticks and notebooks.

“For several years now, we’ve seen school supply lists become longer due to the addition of these new item categories,” Sullivan said. “There are still great deals at back-to-school time which keep supply prices low. But as the lists grow longer, the total amount parents are spending rises.”

Average total spending on back to school supplies (including fashion, electronics and personal supplies) is slightly down this year, according to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF).

According to NRF’s Back-to-School Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average family with children in grades K-12 plans to spend $630.36 on electronics, apparel and other school needs, down from $669.28 last year. Total spending is expected to reach $24.9 billion. Additionally, indicating the continued growth in the back-to-school arena, families on average have spent 42 percent more on school items over the past 10 years.

Total spending for K-12 and college is expected to reach $68 billion.

Regardless of the slight decrease, the NRF survey results point to a more confident consumer when it comes to spending and the impact of the economy. The survey found 76.4 percent of families with school-age children say they will change their spending because of the economy, the lowest in the seven years NRF has been tracking it, and down from 81.1 percent last year.

“As seen over the last 13 years, spending on ‘back to school’ has consistently fluctuated based on children’s needs each year, and it’s unlikely most families would need to restock and replenish apparel, electronics and supplies every year,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Parents this summer will inventory their children’s school supplies and decide what is needed and what can be reused, which just makes good budgeting sense for families with growing children.”

Please include attribution to National Retail Federation with this graphic.

Top 10 trends for back-to-school and college 2015

Leave a Reply